Five games ago, Newcastle were a team in freefall. To say fans were upset would be an understatement.
Mass protests against the club and heavy pressure to relieve Alan Pardew of his managerial duties dominated the early part of the season but who could blame the fans, Pardew’s record in 2014 doesn’t make for pretty reading.
Up until their first League win of the season at home to Leicester, the Magpies had played 28 games in 2014 and lost half of them – winning only six. In the current era of football, a lot of chairmen are hot on the trigger when it comes to firing the manager but despite the pressure and grief owner Mike Ashley has received, he stuck by Pardew.
His patience and trust in the manager is now beginning to pay dividends, as Newcastle’s recent revival is nothing short of spectacular. Five wins on the bounce and a team flowing with confidence is a far cry from the side that were embarrassed by Southampton just four games into the season.
Wins against Leicester, Tottenham, Liverpool and West Brom have propelled the club into eighth place and just a win off the coveted top four positions. A cup run is also beginning to get the club’s fan’s excited having reached the quarter-finals of the League Cup after shocking last year’s winners Manchester City at The Etihad.
So what is the formula I hear you ask?
Last season, Newcastle became predictable and they carried that into the new campaign. A lack of creativity, the inability to tactically outwit the opposition and Pardew’s defiance to pick the same player’s saw the club sitting in the bottom three.
Then Pardew did what he should have done earlier in the season. He dropped under-performing players like Yoan Gouffran, Vurnon Anita and new signings Emmanuel Riviere and Remy Cabella and decided to give some of the youngster’s a chance.
Paul Dummett, Sammy Ameobi and Mehdi Abeid have starred for the Magpies in recent weeks and until an injury to the Abeid forced him out of tomorrow’s game, the three of them would have all started against QPR.
Ayoze Perez and Rolando Aaron’s are at the moment the names on everybody’s lips up in the North East and these two are a vital component to the rest of the season.
Perez was an unknown entity when he was signed for £1.5m from Spanish second division side Tenerife but the boy has taken the Premier League by storm. Three goals in three starts – all match-winners, has seen his profile and no-doubt his price tag rise spectacularly.
The 21-year-old recently won two awards (Liga Adelante’s breakthrough player and Liga Adelante’s best attacking midfielder) in Madrid and it is clear to see why. Not big in stature but a willing runner, Perez has all the technical attributes to become a top player in world football.
Jamaican-born winger Rolando Aarons is another player who has burst onto the scene and it’s now being reported that some of the bigger clubs in league are watching his contract situation carefully.
Fast, strong and full of energy, Aarons has not looked out of place in the squad and he made a £32m defender in Eliaquim Mangala look very average after bursting past him and slotting home against Man City in the last round of the League Cup.
After his controversial move, Jack Colback is now one of the star men for Newcastle. His ball-playing abilities and determination makes the ex-Sunderland man one of the first names on the team sheet and it’s easy to see why Pardew wanted to snap up the midfielder so eagerly.
A revived Moussa Sissoko was a disappointment last season after a blistering start to his Magpies career but it wouldn’t be fair to blame him for that. Played on the right-wing and out of position, the Frenchman looked lost at times and it was clear to see that Newcastle weren’t utilising him properly.
However, it’s a completely different story this season.
Moved into the centre, the powerhouse is thriving in his more advanced role. His strength and power makes him almost impossible to play against when running at defenders and he is beginning to form a lovely partnership with Colback and Abeid in the middle of the park.
After a catastrophic start, the Magpies are certainly looking up and although Pardew may never be favoured by the fans, it’s a case of credit where it’s due. He made the changes needed and the results have started to improve but there’s still a long way to go in the season and with Newcastle United – you never know what’s round the corner.